Thursday, September 1, 2011

Anti-Tomato No More

We are self-professed not-tomato-people. When we would share with people that we had a garden, one of the first questions was always, "Do you grow tomatoes?" and when we said no, we were met by looks of utter bafflement. We're the kind of people that do BLTs, minus the T. We put cheese on instead. I can't say we don't eat any tomatoes. We like sauce on our pasta, ketchup with our fries, salsa on our nachos, that sort of thing. But fresh, juicy tomatoes? We'll pass.

This year we decided to grow some tomatoes to try our hand at pasta sauce. We thought we bought Roma tomato plants. Apparently not. Or maybe we bought miniature Roma tomato plants. Whatever we got, the tomatoes were tiny but abundant.

So, much dicing, stirring and simmering later, we wound up with 14 pints of tomato sauce using this recipe from Thy Hand Hath Provided. It took a long time to chop up all those little tomatoes. Thankfully, the recipe said the skins could be left on so we didn't bother peeling them.

We do have a few plants with normal sized tomatoes coming on, so we're hoping to do another batch of sauce when they are ready. In the meantime, here are two recipes for grape or cherry tomatoes that we found we enjoy. We are becoming sort-of-tomato-people. Sorry I don't have any pictures of these dishes but that's what happens when meal prep is a one-man-woman show.

Parmesan Pasta Salad
from Real Simple

Toss 1 pound cooked small pasta shells with 2 pints cherry tomatoes (halved), 4 ounces fresh Parmesan (broken into small pieces with a fork), 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. (I add more salt and pepper.)

Roasted Tomato-Bread Toss
from Better Homes and Gardens, August 2011

2 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes (about 6 cups)
6 c. torn baguette or Italian bread
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. pitted Kalamata and/or green olives
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Position one oven rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Wash tomatoes; pat dry with paper towels. Arrange tomatoes in single layer in prepared pan. Place bread in large bowl; drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons oil over pieces. Toss to coat. Arrange bread in single layer on second large baking pan.
2. Roast tomatoes on upper rack, bread on lower rack for 20-25 minutes. Roast tomatoes just until skins begin to split and wrinkle, gently stirring once. Roast bread until lightly toasted, stirring once.
3. Transfer bread and olives to tomato pan. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper; drizzle over tomatoes, olives and bread. Toss gently, transfer to serving bowl. Makes 8 side-dish servings.

Notes: I toasted my bread for about half the alloted time and quartered my olives before mixing them in.

One last shot of our pretty tomatoes...pretty enough to eat, I guess!

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